Dominique Lanier scored the go-ahead basket with just over five minutes remaining and Korey Anderson came off the bench to post a career-high 15 points as The Master’s College tuned up for GSAC play with a 77-68 victory over a pesky La Sierra squad Saturday evening in the Inland Empire.
Four days after having their eight-game winning streak snapped and three days before they embark on another conference season, the Mustangs moved back into the win column, improving to 12-3.
With the game knotted at 59-all, Lanier (Lakewood, CA), who went 5-6 from the field on the way to 11 points, hit a field goal with 5:28 left to play to put the Mustangs ahead for good, snapping the fifth and final tie of the evening. A little over a minute later, Lanier assisted on a Zach Stalin (Bellingham, WA) basket that doubled the advantage and was just enough to keep the Mustangs ahead after La Sierra’s Garrett Kiefer buried a three-pointer, drawing the hosts to within 63-62 at the 4:02 mark.
However, the Mustangs responded with consecutive baskets from Bernard Ireland (Victorville, CA) and Korey Anderson (Clovis, CA), and the Eagles never got closer than three points (67-64) the rest of the way. When they did, Lanier sparked a quick 6-2 burst with another field, Reid Shackelford (Murrieta, CA) canned a pair of free throws and when Anderson duplicated that with 1:02 remaining, the Mustangs had extended the lead to 73-66. They closed out the Eagles on a Lanier-assisted, Shackelford basket and two charity tosses from Stalin.
This was all in stark contrast to the game’s first six minutes when the Golden Eagles looked nothing like a squad suffering through a seven-game losing skid. After spotting the Mustangs a number of one-point leads in that span, they ripped off eight straight points to take a 16-9 lead with 14:23 left in the half.
Just as quickly, though, the Mustangs returned the favor, using five Stalin points as part of a 12-0 run that turned that seven-point deficit into a 21-16 lead. Stalin ignited the burst with a field goal while Ireland capped it off with a three-pointer and in between Derek Walters (Fresno, CA) and Anderson added baskets, and Stalin converted a three-point play.
The Mustangs spent much of the rest of the stanza staving off the Eagles who pulled to within two points on three occasions until a pair of Mustang surges created some much-needed separation.
The first of those was of the 7-0 variety when Jason Logan (Spartanburg, SC) hit a field goal with 5:47 showing on the clock followed by a Chris Patureau (Houston, TX) basket and a Shackelford trey. The Golden Eagles matched that to end the Mustangs’ run but Derrick Fain (Dallas, TX) answered with a long-range bomb of his own for a 35-26 lead.
After the Eagles put together a 4-0 mini-run to get within five points, the Mustangs closed out the half with the final five points as Fain converted a pair of free throws and Anderson drained a three-pointer, the club’s fifth of the stanza, at the buzzer to send them to the break ahead 40-30.
Over the first 20 minutes, the Mustangs went 16-34 (47%) from the field, highlighted by a 5-7 effort from behind the arc.
The Mustangs’ late, first-half run continued into the opening two minutes of the closing stanza when field goals by Logan and Patureau extended the lead to a game-high 14 points (44-30). They equaled that margin one more time (47-33) on their next possession when Fain buried his third and final triple of the game.
That lead didn’t last long as the Eagles started a methodical chipping away at the deficit, beginning with an 8-0 burst that drew them with six points (47-41) at the 14:20 mark. A Patureau basket less than a minute later ended the skein, but the Eagles kept coming. They used another 8-0 skein in a 2:38 window to knot the game at 49 on a Lance Jones’ basket with 10:26 showing on the clock.
Reeling after scoring just two points in a 9:31 span, the Mustangs got some unexpected help from Jones who committed an intentional foul on Anderson that translated into a pair of tie-breaking free throws and when Shackelford duplicated that with 8:27 left, the Mustangs had a 53-49 lead.
Lanier added a free throw at the eight-minute mark but the Eagles erased that deficit in a matter of 51 seconds on a Kiefer basket and a Wolfgang Wood trifecta. The clubs traded three-pointers on their next possessions, Lanier put the Mustangs ahead 59-57 with a basket, and Kiefer tied the game one last time with two free tosses, setting up the final five minutes for Lanier and his teammates.
Anderson’s team-high total (15 points) came on 5-7 shooting from the floor and four free throws. Shackelford, who went 2-4 from behind the arc, added a dozen points while Lanier and Fain chipped in with 11 points apiece. Logan, who struggled offensively, ripped down a team-best seven rebounds as the Mustangs outboarded the Eagles 31-28.
With non-conference opponents behind them, the Mustangs now turn their attention to GSAC play where they’ll see what they’re made of right away when they play at Hope International Tuesday evening. The Royals are currently 12-3 and coming off a 2012-13 campaign when they finished second in the conference and qualified for the NAIA National Tournament.